Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

The impact of a school-based nutrition education intervention on dietary intake and cognitive and attitudinal variables relating to fruits and vegetables

AS Andersona1 c1, LEG Porteousa1, E Fostera2, C Higginsa3, M Steada4, M Hetheringtona5, M-A Haa1 and AJ Adamsona2

a1 Centre for Public Health Nutrition Research, Ninewells Medical School, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 9SY, UK

a2 Human Nutrition Research Centre, School of Clinical Medical Sciences, University of Newcastle, UK

a3 Department of Psychology, University of Dundee, UK

a4 Centre for Social Marketing, University of Strathclyde, UK

a5 School of Psychology, University of Liverpool, UK


Objective To assess the impact of a school-based nutrition education intervention aimed at increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Design The intervention programme increased the provision of fruits and vegetables in schools and provided a range of point-of-purchase marketing materials, newsletters for children and parents, and teacher information. Curriculum materials at age 6–7 and 10–11 years were also developed and utilised. Evaluation was undertaken with groups of younger (aged 6–7 years) and older (aged 10–11 years) children. Methods included 3-day dietary records with interview and cognitive and attitudinal measures at baseline, with follow-up at 9 months, in intervention and control schools.

Setting The work was undertaken in primary schools in Dundee, Scotland.

Subjects Subjects comprised 511 children in two intervention schools with a further 464 children from two schools acting as controls.

Results Children (n = 64) in the intervention schools had an average increase in fruit intake (133±1.9 to 183±17.0 g day-1) that was significantly (P < 0.05) greater than the increase (100±11.7 to 107±14.2 g day-1) estimated in children (n = 65) in control schools. No other changes in food or nutrient intake were detected. Increases in scores for variables relating to knowledge about fruits and vegetables and subjective norms were also greater in the intervention than in the control group, although taste preferences for fruits and vegetables were unchanged.

Conclusions It is concluded that a whole school approach to increasing intakes of fruits and vegetables has a modest but significant effect on cognitive and attitudinal variables and on fruit intake.

(Received August 28 2003)

(Accepted September 08 2004)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email